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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Art Reviews

When the pen really was mightier than the sword

Some clichés are more tiresome than others: “The pen is mightier than the sword,” for example. Then you see in front of you a pen that actually was, and cliché turns into revelation.

The item in question is the pen Abraham Lincoln used 150 years ago to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s in a small exhibition at the Massachusetts Historical Society, “Forever Free: Lincoln & the Emancipation Proclamation.” The show runs through May 24, as do the equally small “Abraham Lincoln in Manuscript and Artifact” and the more substantial “’Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land: Boston Abolitionists, 1831-1865.”

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